Evolution of Postal Services: Navigating the Winds of Change

Date:

Arjumand Wani 

Srinagar, Nov 25: In a reminiscent era, Fata Aapa patiently awaited letters from her son Abdul Wahab, serving in the Indian Nautical Army of Volunteer Yeomen (Navy) posted in Mumbai. Each month, Abdul Wahab faithfully sent a letter home, a lifeline for his uneducated mother, who depended on neighbour Asadullah Pathwari to read it aloud.

“Over the past few years, with rapid economic growth and technological advancement, there is a decline in personal letters with the advent of internet and mobile communication,” observed Faisal Bashir, an administrative official at the General Post Office (GPO) Srinagar.

However, as personal letters dwindled, post offices embraced a broader role, extending beyond traditional realms. Today, they facilitate not only money orders and letters but also the delivery of goods, insurance, banking, credit card services, government documents, licenses, and passports. Faisal Bashir noted, “People use inland cards (ILCs) and letters for aesthetic purposes only now.”

Despite a 90 percent decline in personal letters, government departments, particularly courts, continue to rely on postal services for communication. Javaid Ahmad, a postal assistant at the Baramulla Post Office, emphasized, “If the court has to summon someone, they send a notice through post.” Interdepartmental communication within government sectors still heavily depends on post offices.

Muzaffar Ahmad Bhat, Postmaster at the Pulwama Post Office, explained, “The main reason behind this is that the layman in courts follows the procedure professionally, and there is a need to send notices by post.” While online messaging has transformed communication, the postal worker’s job has not diminished but evolved. Ahmad remarked, “Big commerce giants rely on post offices; now they have to deliver goods through post offices, ultimately adding to the job of the postman.”

Post offices have transcended their historical confines of handling letters, becoming pivotal in delivering goods and official documents. Letters, though significantly reduced, are not obsolete. Ahmad stated, “The letters in post offices these days are 95 plus percent commercial than personal. We still have ILC templates, but hardly anyone uses them these days.”

Abdul Ahmad, a septuagenarian postman from Dadoora village in Pulwama district, while talking to Kashmir Despatch reflected on the transformation. He fondly remembers a time when rural residents eagerly awaited him, whispering, “Chithi Woul Aaw” (Postman came), with smiles lighting up their faces. “It gave them a feeling like their relatives who were abroad came themselves,” Ahmad recalled. While communication has become faster due to the internet, the charm of that smile and the joy of reading letters are missing. Today, there is no Fata Apa-like woman eagerly waiting for ink on paper.

The evolution of postal services signifies a dynamic adaptation to changing communication trends. Post offices, once synonymous with personal letters, have seamlessly integrated into the digital age, becoming essential conduits for a diverse array of services. Despite the decline in personal correspondence, the enduring significance of post offices in facilitating official communication and commerce remains unwavering. The shift in focus from personal letters to commercial transactions underscores the resilience and adaptability of this longstanding institution in the face of technological advancements.

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